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Commuter race etiquette

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  • 19-11-2010 8:08pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 447 ✭✭


    Hi, I'm a long-time reader, occasional poster - want to get some input from all you fine folks about commuter races.

    I was riding to work yesterday as per usual, doing about 35km/h on a nice flat stretch of road. I got passed by another rider who was going quite a bit faster (40+ km/h). I usually try and chase back on to someone when they go past, so as soon as he whizzed by I was up and out of the saddle and sprinting to get on his back wheel.

    I closed the gap, and was working very hard just to stay with him - he was definitely significantly faster than I was. He figured out I was there before too long, had a few glances over his shoulder and eventually weaved about a bit to throw me off. Which was fine by me, all's fair in love and commuter racing. He pulls away slowly but I'm still working pretty hard and limiting how big the gap gets.

    Eventually he gets caught by a red light, and ends up behind three other riders who were slower than him. I catch up, and tag along behind all four for a minute or two until the first guy (I'll call him Angry Rider (AR) from this point) takes off again. I wait until I get my chance to pass the slower riders and then hammer off down the road after him - another couple of junctions later I catch him again at another red light. As we take off when the lights go green I tuck in behind him again, and push myself to stay with him (we were probably doing 46-47km/h). He knows I am there, both by glancing back occasionally and probably also from the fact that I sound like a dying swan trying to keep up with him. After a few kms of this he seems to get very annoyed, and pulls over so I can take a go on front.

    I have no problem with this, but mange to gasp out as I pass him by that he's a lot faster than I am. Anyway, Angry Rider jumps right in behind me back wheel and proceeds to shout "Faster" at me every few seconds for the next km as we fly through another couple of sets of lights.

    I'm pretty sure my cardiovascular system is about to explode at this stage, so I sit up and wiggle my elbow to get him to pull through. He shoots past on the inside glaring at me and waggling his elbow extravagantly as if to say "why don't you take a longer turn up front" - he's so focused on me in fact that he almost rides into the ditch.

    I was beginning to suspect AR was mentally unbalanced by now so I sat back and let him pull away slowly (not that I really had much option to be honest)... a few kms later I turn off the road while he continues on his merry way.

    Anyway, just wanted to get people's perspectives - did I do something wrong? Have the unwritten rules of commuter racing been secretly rewritten?

    Doesn't everyone try to stay with someone faster when they go past?

    Was this guy just a bitter cat 3/4 rider who was getting all the rage associated with abuse of aggression-inducing PEDs without any of the benefits?

    Angry Rider was wearing pretty euro-looking white shoes, but the rest of his kit was well used (I got a good look as I groveled along behind him). I had a shiny new pair of shorts on, and a pretty hideous Landbouwkrediet jacket so I'm sure I looked like a Fred. Was he just annoyed that I seemed to know what I was doing and was sucking his wheel?

    I took a turn up front and got dropped pretty quickly after that - did I just get taken in by some very good psychological tactics on his part where he drove me harder than I should have ridden by shouting at me from behind and then dropped me once I was sufficiently tired and intimidated? (If so, can't wait to try the same stunt on the next granny I end up cycling behind!)

    Should he have manned up and tried to just ride me off his wheel?

    Or was I unknowingly breaking some prime directive of commuter riding and was I lucky he didn't beat me to death with my own bike lock? Should I just have accepted that in every commuter race there is a winner and there is a loser, and that in this case I was playing the part of the loser?

    I'm confused - it was the most bizarre interaction with a cyclist I have had in 20+ years of commuting to/from school/work/wherever...

    For the tl;dr set: I tried to stay with a faster rider by sucking his wheel, he seemed to get annoyed. Is this justified? What would you do differently? Don't most people try to stay with a faster rider?


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 67 ✭✭endurodave


    I dont road race but id say he was cheesed off about you using his slipstream and not taking your turn for long enough but as i said im not to sure on road bikes so some one on here may be able to give you a better answer.


  • Moderators, Politics Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 24,269 Mod ✭✭✭✭Chips Lovell


    You're both as mad as eachother.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,676 ✭✭✭Gavin


    If he was weaving it sounds like he was pissed off that some complete stranger was sitting on his wheel. I wouldn't appreciate it myself. What if he had to emergency stop ?

    Racing for a laugh is fine, but sticking on someones wheel in traffic while commuting isn't really on.


  • Administrators, Social & Fun Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 76,353 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Beasty


    If I was with someone of similar pace, I would make sure I take turns at the front - I don't mind giving someone who's a bit slower than me a pull, but I would not sit on someone else's wheel if I was incapable of taking a turn.

    I do actually find it a bit more of a challenge if someone does stick to my wheel - I would probably try to pick the pace up a bit to make sure we are both getting a good workout;)


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,833 ✭✭✭niceonetom


    I think, commuting or not, it's poor form to draft someone without being able to do your share on the front. Sounds like he didn't want you there and decided to school you by cooking you on the front and then dropping you. If you're gasping in his wake, let him go. No one wants a dying swan as a passenger.

    You are breaking the first and second rules of commuter racing by starting this thread though. That's far more egregious than poor drafting etiquette.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 10,817 ✭✭✭✭Dord


    I had some guy right up on my backwheel on my commute this morning. Bloody pissed me off! :mad:


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,150 ✭✭✭kumate_champ07


    lol


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,150 ✭✭✭kumate_champ07


    a few weeks ago was coming over portobello bridge from a standing start into rathines. 20m onwards I hear a loud rattling sound, a guy passes me on a mountain bike mashing away. I keep going anyway and pick up the pace a little, stopped at a red light, then carried on and when I eventually pass him near mc donalds I hear an angry "fúckssake!"
    I wasnt actually going that fast but he obviously wanted to beat someone on a road bike in the commuter races!

    had a bit of close one a few days ago. wasnt racing anyone, just basically going 'flat out' thru rathmines but watching the traffic/footpath and tryin to be safe.
    anyway passed along the inside of a dublin bus that was stopped but the lights were green ahead, it was the large box at the junction and a traffic jam ahead that had it stopped. when I got to the front of the bus a taxi was turning right/to my left. we both stopped just in time. technically it wasnt either of our faults, I didnt feel any ill will but I will remember this particular experience for future situations.
    actually I would probably lean towards it being more my fault even tho I didnt break any laws.

    so does everyone think commuter races are ok or a bit cringe worthy?
    I like to be fast but stop at all the red lights, alot just break the red lights but Im not sure they know they are in a race!


  • Registered Users Posts: 31,080 ✭✭✭✭Lumen


    Never take on anyone in knackered old club kit. Regardless of how fit they are, they'll crush you psychologically one way or another.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 19,986 ✭✭✭✭mikemac


    Went for a spin one morning before work
    IFSC, a lap of Howth Hill and back again

    And I had a lad sucking my wheel from Sutton Cross to Alfie Byrne Rd, so pretty much the entire way.

    I'd go flat out, I'd back off a bit sometimes , I'd go flat out again and he just stayed there the entire time.
    Pissed me off a bit. Maybe it shouldn't have but it did.

    I get into the odd commuter race now and again but nothing as mad you OP


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  • Registered Users Posts: 11,767 ✭✭✭✭tomasrojo


    This isn't intended as criticism, but consider your description of what happened.
    had a bit of close one a few days ago. wasnt racing anyone, just basically going 'flat out' thru rathmines but watching the traffic/footpath and tryin to be safe.
    anyway passed along the inside of a dublin bus that was stopped but the lights were green ahead, it was the large box at the junction and a traffic jam ahead that had it stopped. when I got to the front of the bus a taxi was turning right/to my left. we both stopped just in time.

    Definitely best not to go up the inside of any bus or HGV. And if you can't resist it, definitely be very careful as you emerge on the other side.

    The same goes when you emerge from congested lanes of traffic into a yellow box. (Closest call I ever had.) Be aware that motorists don't expect anyone to emerge from a traffic jam at speed.
    actually I would probably lean towards it being more my fault even tho I didnt break any laws.

    Possibly, though it sounds as if the taxi didn't have the green light. But regardless of right and wrong, it's not a risk worth taking, I think.
    so does everyone think commuter races are ok or a bit cringe worthy?

    The older editions of Cyclecraft had advice on how to avoid getting into commuter races. Mostly just pulling into the side of the road and letting your would-be competitor disappear from view before proceeding. This is advice I follow. But each to his own.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,150 ✭✭✭kumate_champ07


    tomasrojo wrote: »
    This isn't intended as criticism, but consider your description of what happened.



    Definitely best not to go up the inside of any bus or HGV. And if you can't resist it, definitely be very careful as you emerge on the other side.

    The same goes when you emerge from congested lanes of traffic into a yellow box. (Closest call I ever had.) Be aware that motorists don't expect anyone to emerge from a traffic jam at speed.



    Possibly, though it sounds as if the taxi didn't have the green light. But regardless of right and wrong, it's not a risk worth taking, I think.



    The older editions of Cyclecraft had advice on how to avoid getting into commuter races. Mostly just pulling into the side of the road and letting your would-be competitor disappear from view before proceeding. This is advice I follow. But each to his own.
    I wouldnt normally go along the side of a bus but there was no bus stop ahead so knew it wasnt gonna pull in to the left, I had loads of room.

    I wasnt actually going flat out at that time, slowed down a bit but in future will slow down alot more.
    I like to go close to the same speed as cars, just because Im on a bicycle doesnt mean I have to go slow! Its nice to cruise sometimes but I like to feel pain in my body/get the blood pumping

    georges st and other city areas you have pedestrians walking thru stopped traffic so going fast along the side of a stopped bus wouldnt be a good idea. I guess now its not a good idea anywhere!


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,767 ✭✭✭✭tomasrojo


    Well, I guess it's a judgement call, going up the inside, but I really try to avoid it. I know what you're saying though: if you're not near a junction or bus stop, then the bus is unlikely to cross your path (especially if it's at a red light).

    I think maybe the critical aspect of what happened to you was that your view of the road ahead was poor because of the bus, so best to slow right down so that you have time to react.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 15 Barrya


    my better judgement tells me that the OP is taking the piss, given the attention BikesnobNYC has given to Cat 6 racing lately.

    but anyways, I'll bite.

    Point 1: the roads are crap in the city. I don't know how often I have to evade stuff whether it is glass, rain grates in the cycle lane, pot holes, wet manhole covers on a turn or other things that could put me off. I do not want someone on my wheel, especially at speed.

    Point 2: Jaywalking is a national pastime here in Ireland and people step out into the road first and then check for traffic second. People just don't look and you need to be very perceptive to avoid them.

    Point 3: What if the guy was just fit and late for work. He needed to get there for a meeting and the car broke down. or whatever.

    If you want to race then do it. but subjecting other commuters to your own personal training plan is selfish, and dangerous, especially in the city.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,831 ✭✭✭ROK ON


    I have not yet raced, but am of the opinion that commuter racing is pretty pathetic.

    No one sits on my whell and I dont sit on others. I go at my own pace, I will be simply too fast for you to hold my wheel, or you will be too fast for me to hold yours. I am certainly not going to change my commute into some class of event.

    No when on a weekend spin, training ride or sportif, if I see a rider up the road I will always try to bridge the gap I think that is acceptable, (if I succeed, then it is only right to do a turn once one recovers from the exertion) In an urban commute it is too dangerous I feel.


  • Registered Users Posts: 749 ✭✭✭Arthurdaly


    He was fitter than you, you clung to his wheel and when given the opportunity you gassed, let it go! Find a weaker opponent!


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,604 ✭✭✭petethedrummer


    cerebus wrote: »
    I have no problem with this, but mange to gasp out as I pass him by that he's a lot faster than I am. Anyway, Angry Rider jumps right in behind me back wheel and proceeds to shout "Faster" at me every few seconds for the next km as we fly through another couple of sets of lights.
    Its at this point you should have taken the next exit as if it was where you were going all along. Then hide for about 20 minutes in case he knows what you are up to and comes looking for you, then carry on to where you actually work.

    I wouldn't know about that, cos I DESTROY EVERY ONE ON MY COMMUTE.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,604 ✭✭✭petethedrummer


    ROK ON wrote: »
    I have not yet raced, but am of the opinion that commuter racing is pretty pathetic.
    sounds like someone got whupped on their way to work.


  • Registered Users Posts: 608 ✭✭✭mockler007


    you know who wants to race, and who doesn't,,,
    and when it becomes a glorious meeting of to guys on 2 pedigree bikes,
    it all makes sense then... a full out race,

    A 2 man cannonball,, down dame street !!!!
    and a stoppie at the lights for effect, in the wet for even more effect!!!

    and it will either end in tears/bus/Gardi/ipodguy or joy!!!
    anyone who disagrees with this is the tears/bus/garda/ipodguy


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,256 ✭✭✭c0rk3r


    cerebus wrote: »
    Anyway, Angry Rider jumps right in behind me back wheel and proceeds to shout "Faster" at me every few seconds for the next km as we fly through another couple of sets of lights.

    This is one of the funniest things ive read on here in a while. Two lunatics :D


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 20,297 ✭✭✭✭Jawgap


    Nutters......both of you, but it's pleasing to know that there at least two people out there who are worse than I am.

    I like a good commuter race as much as the next guy (or girl) but there's a difference between using it to get a good workout and going eyeballs out with someone - I think the OP's description puts it in the latter category.

    Sometimes the best option is just to let them go.........



    .......then go ramp up your training so you're ready the next time your paths cross......:)


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,114 ✭✭✭doctor evil


    Too many other road users for 'commuter racing' to be safe IMO Tis a good way to turn more people off cyclists.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,124 ✭✭✭BryanL


    I find it upsets people the most if you sit on their wheel with a MTB with slicks(they need about 100 psi)

    At all times in commuter racing you must pretend your are just cruising, wether you are leading or hanging on.

    When stopped at lights never heave for breath or spit, you must pretend your not racing.

    When the race starts, take off your glasses as these will fog up at red lights and they'll know your fecked.

    Never acknowledge the other racer/s.

    Never let the wheel go, when you start to crack, just take a different route to work that day, this way you can remain undefeated and you deprive the other racer of the glory of winning.


    When not involved in a do or die commuter race, I'm happy for anyone to stay on my wheel, someone may as well get the benefit of a draft , it doesn't hurt me any.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,618 ✭✭✭Civilian_Target


    ROK ON wrote: »
    I have not yet raced, but am of the opinion that commuter racing is pretty pathetic.

    No one sits on my whell and I dont sit on others. I go at my own pace, I will be simply too fast for you to hold my wheel, or you will be too fast for me to hold yours. I am certainly not going to change my commute into some class of event.

    I kinda agree with your sentiment - for a long time I was doing a 26km commute, with 20km on good, flat roads - perfect for commuter racing. But I've got to admit, in 2 years, I engaged in a few - usually in my boards.ie jersey :)

    I had one about 6 months ago that was truly awesome, just got my drop bars bike and saw this guy coming onto a roundabout at Marineland (Biot) from a different exit and I knew it was on. The course was perfect, a 500m sprint down to the next roundabout - he led through with me following. Then over the motorway bridge, out of the saddle pumping up the slope, and cutting down into the next roundabout where I pushed ahead. Down through a set of curves, another bridge and then another km to the bottom of the hill. Since we were still together, both completely knackered after a 3km sprint, we called it a truce for the 120m climb before a final finishing sprint down through some traffic. Awesome.
    clipboard1mr.jpg

    I got to know many of the commuters on the route - 3 or 4 of which were serious racers, so I would sit on their back wheel. And lots of people would sit on my wheel too.

    Possibly one of the funniest runs home was having a rollerblader try to skate in my slipstream at about 30kmph. This guy was seriously fit, he was there for a good km or two!


  • Registered Users Posts: 447 ✭✭cerebus


    Enjoyed reading all the responses, lots of food for thought - thanks everyone.

    Just on the pedestrian/traffic side of thing, some clarification - the road I ride to work is three or four lanes in each direction, has a nice big bike lane on the shoulder, and no real chance of pedestrian traffic (I won't say zero, as you never know - no footpaths though, and locals don't like to walk. I think I have only ever seen a handful). You can check out a typical section on google maps here. (San Jose, CA). Angry Rider passed me around this spot.

    The surface is great, smooth and no real hazards. Lots of people use it as a training route - very few intersections (all with on/off lanes), traffic lights are very spaced out and favor the traffic on the expressway. I can often ride the entire section of my commute that is on this expressway without having to stop once. Occasionally you get a pine cone or something that has fallen onto the shoulder, but it's a nice ride and a fast commute.

    So not typical inner-city Dublin riding conditions - you can safely push along at pace.


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,767 ✭✭✭✭tomasrojo


    cerebus wrote: »
    and locals don't like to walk

    They sure don't. I was at a conference in San Jose, and the bewilderment I met from the people at the head office when I walked into work from my hotel. Distance? About 3km. Probably not even that.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,150 ✭✭✭kumate_champ07


    BryanL wrote: »

    When stopped at lights never heave for breath or spit, you must pretend your not racing.
    thats a pretty good skill, it's especially important if there are female cyclists beside you. because it really is pathetic to be racing other commuters

    when you reach your finish line remain in a calm relaxed state while the losers catch up and cycle by, then open your front door, collapse in a heap/go for a cold shower


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,150 ✭✭✭kumate_champ07


    I just remembered a pretty good 'race' I had during the summer, tho Im not sure the other guy knew I was on his tail. it started in harolds cross and ended around trinity college. he was out of the saddle alot so I was going at a faster pace than usual to keep up with him. I think I was actually supposed to turn off for wexford st but just got too involved


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 18,056 ✭✭✭✭BostonB


    I cycle pretty slowly but, most guys I meet, who seem to be commuter racing don't want anyone to take a turn in front. They just want to be at the front. You might pass them, unintentionally by talking a different route through a junction etc, and they'll hammer past you to get back in front. Personally I'm quite happy to let them especially into a headwind. Often I catch up because once in front they start slowing down after 5-10 mins. Happens a lot at lights. You stop at the lights, they don't, or move in front of you at the lights. Then take off at snails pace. So you keep catching them.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 20,297 ✭✭✭✭Jawgap


    I've often wondered about the whole lights thing.

    When I roll up to a red light I stop behind whoever happens to be there, and I've noticed quite a proportion of cyclists seem to want mooch up to the "front." On a few occasions guys (it's always guys!!) have got a bit snippy with me for just sitting there waiting for the lights to change - it's just another one of those things (like satnavs) - I just don't get it........


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